Financial leadership changes underway in US. UK and Canada
Global markets have been fairly quiet overnight as markets digest recent action and look ahead to today's FOMC tapering decision.
US data has improved lately as the weather has improved although today's big disappointment from FedEx reminds us how disruptive February's storms were to some parts of the country.
At this point there's no reason to expect the Fed will change its program of cutting back QE3 purchases by $10B at each meeting this year.
The statement and press conference that follow the decision may be watched particularly closely. This is the first meeting with Dr. Yellen flying solo as Chair so comments may give an indication of her priorities and plans for the future.
Political risk premiums related to Ukraine in gold, Brent Crude and Wheat continue to evaporate as fears over political tensions in Ukraine ease for now. Even though Russia continues to consolidate its position in Crimea, the US and EU don't seem to be in a hurry to bring in more sanctions since they aren't even bothering to meet on the issue until next week.
CAD has continued to weaken overnight as the street digests the news that Finance Minister Flaherty has decided to retire from politics. The move does not come as a complete surprise considering his recent health problems but does create some short-term uncertainty.
Natural resources minister Joe Oliver has been named as his replacement. Considering his Bay St. experience and age (73), Mr Oliver's appointment suggests continuity is the top priority and that he appears likely to stay the current fiscal course through to the 2015 election with Prime Minister Harper likely setting the main direction. calling the main shots.
GBP has been rebounding today on the back of a strong UK employment report and a GDP forecast increase. Change is also in the air at the BOE after yesterday's MPC member shuffle, although the 9-0 vote at the last meeting suggests general support for current monetary policy. As part of today's UK budget the Office of Budget Responsibility raised its 2014 UK GDP forecast to 2.7% from 2.4% in December and the 2015 growth forecast to 2.3% from 2.2%. The government also outlined plans to move toward a budget surplus over the next five years with the UK also expected to go to the polls in 2015.
Adobe $0.30 vs street $0.25, guides next Q to $0.26-$0.32 vs street $0.26
Oracle $0.68 vs street $0.70
Economic reports released overnight and this morning include:
Australia leading index (0.1%) vs previous (0.2%)
Japan trade balance (¥800B) vs street (¥600B)
Japan exports 9.8% vs street 12.5%
Japan imports 9.0% vs street 7.2%
Japan leading indicator 113.1street 112.2
UK jobless claims (34K) vs street (25K) vs previous (27K)
UK unemployment rate 7.2% as expected
UK 3M employment change street 110K vs previous 193K
UK Bank of England minutes 9-0 in favour of maintaining current policy
UK budget speech
Economic reports due later today include:
10:30 am EDT US crude oil inventories street 2.7 mmbbls
10:30 am EDT US gasoline inventories street (1.5 mmbbls )
2:00 pm EDT US QE3 decision $10B taper to $55B expected
2:00 pm EDT US interest rate decision 0.25% no change expected
2:30 pm EDT US FOMC Chair Yellen press conference